After ten years in the Oregon Army National Guard, and a great attendance record, I have completed a lot of drill weekends. A lot of them are not very notable, just happy to have done my job and completed training safely. Some of them were long hours, not much fun, especially when out in the cold.
Do some stand out more than others? Absolutely. Even if there’s a particular drill that sounds dreadful ahead of time, that makes me not excited to go, usually by the end of it I am glad I did it and look forward to the next time. I’ve heard that feeling is common after you hit the ten year mark, so I’m glad I am not alone. While I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and worked with a lot of great Soldiers, there is one drill that was my personal favorite.
Every December, I’ve either been a part of a family event during the day, or more recently – a family event during the day, dining out at night. My favorite drill weekend is December 2012.
My husband had just gotten home from his contract job in Iraq 2 months before. I had driven up to Bend, Oregon for my drill weekend, and we were not excited about spending the holiday drill apart, but that’s how things are sometimes. During my training meeting, my commander and 1SG said they wanted families to be together during this time, so I ended up getting to head back down to Klamath Falls to attend the dining out with my husband.
His unit has a long history of dining outs, that year was the 20th anniversary. It was a very special weekend. They had tracked down all the old timers and invited them (there are normally a few that are always there regardless), and the guest of honor was a BG (our ATAG) that used to be a 2LT in that company in the early days of the dining outs.
Other attendees included our Squadron XO (who is now a battalion commander) and many distinguished guests. They do a very traditional dining out ceremony in that unit, complete with a traditional grog (that obviously tastes disgusting). Every year, it is held at the local VFW. The ladies auxiliary used to cook for it, but that year it was catered. It was an amazing experience to be a part of the 20th annual dining out for that unit.
The next morning, the commander had planned a troop run (which nobody was really that excited for). He made everyone happy when he Zonked us, and then told everyone to do platoon bonding over breakfast. I tagged along with my husband’s platoon, and we went to a local diner that is well known for serving a huge and delicious meal.
There were about 20 of us there. Our server came to our table and told us that someone had paid for the entire bill, which would have been over 200 dollars collectively. My husband and I ran to the front and were able to catch the people before they left to thank them for what they did. This is what the heart of Klamath Falls is like – the town has always been extremely military friendly, most places you go to will give discounts or buy meals for Soldiers and Airmen.
While not the hardest training, or longest drill, it was a special drill to me and that is why it is my favorite. I got to be a part of a great Army tradition – a dining out, and saw the heart of some great citizens who made the day of 20 Soldiers. I will always be thankful for these memories.
What was your favorite drill weekend? Share your story by leaving a comment below.